There are four electrical issues an RVer can encounter while traveling: surges, miswired pedestals, high/low voltage, and wiring issues inside the RV.
It is unbelievable to think that 90 percent of RVs do not have any type of electrical protection system in place. We’ve had a power surge, situations where pedestals were miswired, and both high and low voltage situations. Fortunately, our Progressive Electric Management System has protected us from all of these situations.
What exactly are you protecting your RV from when you use an electrical protection device? It’s much more than power surges which we typically associate surge protectors with. Surges are actually the least common problem with RV electricity. An RV typically has a lot of sensitive electronic circuitry in it, and having steady power is crucial to keeping these components from having an early funeral. Failure of components like AC units, refrigerators, washer/dryer, and even computers plugged into a wall outlet can be very expensive to replace.
While the expense is a big deal, there are other considerations like the inconvenience of getting your RV to a repair shop. And, if you are on the road and something fails you’ll be scrambling to find a reputable repair shop. One of the best things you can do to prevent these type failures is to make sure that the power coming into your RV is monitored. Let’s look at the four areas that need to be addressed as it relates to RV electricity.
Electrical Issue #1: Surges
The first issue that most RVers think of as it relates to power coming into the RV is surge protection. A surge is a quick electrical spike that can quickly destroy anything in its path. Surge protection is rated in joules; the higher the level of joules the better the protection. When shopping for an electrical protection system take a look at the joules level, and remember, no system can completely protect you from a direct lightning strike.
Electrical Issue #2: Miswired Pedestals
A good electrical protection system will analyze the pedestal and let you know if there are any issues with the ground wire, neutral wire, and if there are any reverse polarity issues.
Let’s consider RV parks for a moment. The original design should have been professionally inspected but then the years start to pile on and over time the electrical pedestals that we plug into can begin to have problems. Thousands of RVs may have plugged into the pedestal before you and over time, pedestals can start to wear down. Wiring can come loose in the pedestal and you could lose the ground wire which can be dangerous. The neutral wire could become disconnected and put your RV in danger of up to 240 volts running to one side of your RV.
Electrical Issue #3: High/Low Voltage
Your electrical protection system should have the ability to cut you off from the power if the voltage drops too low or goes too high. Usually systems will cut off at 102-104 volts and on the high side at around 132 volts.
So, what causes a low or high voltage situation? Imagine you are at a crowded park in the middle of the summer and everyone is turning on their AC units. A low voltage situation will not always zap an appliance but it will reduce the life expectancy of an appliance over time. Low voltage and high voltage are the silent killers and dealing with this should be a part of your plan to protect your RV.
Electrical Issue #4: Wiring Inside the RV
What if the incoming power is fine, but you have a wiring issue inside of your RV? A good electrical protection system will detect elevated ground currents and open neutral conditions in the RV. This level of protection is new to the market (within the last year) and can be found in the Surge Guard brand.
You may be protected against some of these issues with devices that were installed in your RV from the factory. But, you are not covered from all of these issues with a built-in unit from the factory. Many Diesel Pushers have some type of built in surge protector that is combined with the transfer switch. Smaller class A, B, and C motorhomes may or may not have any electrical protection built in, and fifth-wheels and travel trailers likely have nothing built into the unit.
It surprised me to learn that I did not have the protection from my built-in unit I thought I had. When I checked the model number of the built in electrical protection system and studied the manual, I found that it had nothing more than a surge protector and all of the other elements we discussed were not accounted for.
You can use one of the Progressive Electric Management Systems or Surge Guard portable units even if you have a hardwired unit installed. They will work together to protect your RV.
You don’t need electrical protection until you need it. Saving a few hundred bucks and risking damage due to your lack of electrical protection just does not make sense. I can tell you that having my Progressive Electric Management System plugged into the pedestal makes me feel a whole lot better about being protected from poor park power.
Why would any RVer not want such protection?
As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”